Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cocaine bust is Pasco County's biggest ever

DADE CITY — Federal agents and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office spent a year and a half investigating a high-volume cocaine ring, and on Wednesday their investigation led them here, to a house on several acres on Duck Lake Canal Road. It's remote, more than 4 miles from downtown Dade City, on the eastern edge of the county.

They arrested two suspects at the house.

Then they began searching for cocaine.

"They knew it was there somewhere," said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

Doll said the detectives also knew that the drugs would be well-concealed.

They brought in Missy. She's a canine officer with the Sheriff's Office that helped make a big bust in 2008 — a truck carrying nearly $1.5 million in cash and 71 grams of marijuana. Her picture is still on the sheriff's Web site, showing her posing in front of the loot with her handler, Detective Scott Grant.

On the Dade City property, she zeroed in on a shed. Detectives started digging.

Jackpot.

Buried underneath the shed they found 52 kilos of cocaine — more than 114 pounds — and $200,000 in cash. The cocaine's street value is $1.5 million, Doll said.

"It is our largest cocaine bust in the history of the Pasco Sheriff's Office," Doll said.

A semitrailer truck carrying at least $2 million in cash was stopped Wednesday by the Florida Highway Patrol. Doll said it is related to this case, but he would not say where the truck was found or where authorities believe it was headed.

He said the amount of cash in the truck could be higher. Detectives were still counting it Thursday night.

Three men, all from Mexico, were arrested in the case. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, this was the men's first arrest in Florida. It is not known how long they have been in the United States.

Two of the men live at the Duck Lake location. They are Rogelio Zarco-Perez, 37, and Jorge Castillo-Ramos, 38, both charged with trafficking cocaine.

The third man is Audel Arrizon-Lopez, 37, with an address in Norcross, Ga. He is charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Arrizon-Lopez was arrested on Bonneville Drive in Dade City, according to his arrest report.

The men are at the Land O'Lakes jail, being held for immigration authorities.

The 18-month investigation culminating in the drug bust was a joint effort by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Doll would not say whether more arrests are expected.

"It's still under investigation," he said.

Times researcher Will Gorham contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Cocaine bust is Pasco County's biggest ever 08/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 31, 2009 12:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Daniel Ruth: Public money built Bucs' stadium, so let public sell tickets

    Columns

    Who knew the Tampa Bay Bucs were actually the Daisies of Dale Mabry?

    Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, wants to do what it takes to ensure that those sitting in the lower bowl of Raymond James Stadium are wearing his team's colors. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]

  2. America's opioid problem is so bad it's cutting into U.S. life expectancy

    Public Safety

    Prosecutors in New York announced this week that an August drug raid yielded 140 pounds of fentanyl, the most in the city's history and enough to kill 32 million people, they told New York 4.

    The average American life expectancy grew overall from 2000 to 2015, but that the astounding rise in opioid-related deaths shaved 2.5 months off this improvement, according to a study. [Associated Press]
  3. After Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay officers headed south to help out

    Public Safety

    When Hurricane Irma was forecast to pummel the Tampa Bay region, Tampa police Cpl. Whitney McCormick was ready for the worst — to lose her home and all of her possessions.

    Tampa International Airport Police Department Sgt. Eric Diaz (left) stands next to Tampa Police Department Cpl. Whitney McCormick at the Collier County Command Post in the days after Hurricane Irma. More than 100 local law enforcement officers traveled from Tampa Bay to help out the county. (Courtesy of Whitney McCormick)
  4. Forecast: Sunny skies, mainly dry conditions continue across Tampa Bay

    Weather

    For Tampa Bay residents, Wednesday is expected to bring lots of sunshine, lower humidity and little to no storm chances.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Florida education news: Irma makeup days, HB 7069, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart waives two of the required 180 days of instruction to help districts complete the …

    Education Commissioner Pam Stewart